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Democracy incorporated : managed democracy and the specter of inverted totalitarianism /
Sheldon S. Wolin.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2008.
description
xvii, 356 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0691135665 (cloth), 9780691135663 (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2008.
isbn
0691135665 (cloth)
9780691135663 (cloth)
contents note
Myth in the making -- Totalitarianism's inversion : beginnings of the imaginary of a permanent global war -- Totalitarianism's inversion, democracy's perversion -- The new world of terror -- The utopian theory of superpower : the official version -- The dynamics of transformation -- The dynamics of the archaic -- The politics of superpower : managed democracy -- Intellectual elites against democracy -- Domestic politics in the era of superpower and empire -- Inverted totalitarianism : antecedents and precedents -- Demotic moments -- Democracy's prospects : looking backwards.
catalogue key
6393318
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 293-337) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Wolin's writing has a resonance that binds the canon of political philosophy to unfolding events and present circumstances. In "Democracy Incorporated," he contends that the institutions and practices that Americans regarded as their defense against totalitarianism--and other forms of authoritarian domination--have failed them. There is nothing like this book. It is a major, potentially revolutionary contribution to political thought."--Anne Norton, author of "Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire""Powerful and persuasive. "Democracy Incorporated" does exactly what great political theory should do: it provides a theoretical framework that allows the reader to see the political world anew. It left this reader with an almost nightmarish vision of American politics today, a nightmare all the more terrifying for being so compelling, so vivid, and so real."--Marc Stears, author of "Progressives, Pluralists, and the Problems of the State"
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-11-01:
Wolin (emeritus, Princeton Univ.) argues that democratic practice and theory in the US are failing. Wolin's evidence includes the expansion of corporate power and the accelerating merger of corporate and state power; executive violation of constitutional norms; growing executive dominance; empire and its corrosion of democracy; manipulation of elections and the public; lying; managed democracy; concentration of media ownership; appeal to religious, economic, and political fundamentalism in place of common interest; and marketization of values and beliefs. This creates "inverted totalitarianism" that exploits the public and justifies accelerating inequality, but is compatible with some outward forms of democracy. Such violation of democracy is not planned or desired but results from "actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences." Despite deep roots, this process has accelerated under the current Bush administration, though Wolin has scant hope that Democrats, as opposed to democrats, can significantly improve the situation. Chapter 9 is a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct. Hopefully his next book will expand his suggestions for "redemocratization." Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. C. P. Waligorski emeritus, University of Arkansas
Reviews
Review Quotes
With his fundamental grasp of political theory and restless spirit to get at the essence of what threatens modern democracy, Wolin demonstrates that the threats to our democratic traditions and institutions are not always from outside, but may come from within. It is a book that policymakers and scholars of contemporary society should read and reflect upon.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost cliche. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In "Democracy Incorporated," Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms "inverted totalitarianism"? Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive--and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a "managed democracy" where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today's America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today's politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy's best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level."Democracy Incorporated" is one of the most worrying diagnoses of America's political ills to emerge in decades. It is sure to be a lightning rod for political debate for years to come.
Main Description
Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost clicheacute;. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? InDemocracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms "inverted totalitarianism"? Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive--and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a "managed democracy" where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today's America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today's politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy's best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level. Democracy Incorporatedis one of the most worrying diagnoses of America's political ills to emerge in decades. It is sure to be a lightning rod for political debate for years to come.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
previewp. 1
Myth in the Makingp. 4
Totalitarianism's Inversion: Beginnings of the Imaginary of a Permanent Global Warp. 15
Totalitarianism's Inversion, Democracy's Perversionp. 41
The New World of Terrorp. 69
The Utopian Theory of Superpower: The Official Versionp. 82
The Dynamics of Transformationp. 95
The Dynamics of the Archaicp. 114
The Politics of Superpower: Managed Democracyp. 131
Intellectual Elites against Democracyp. 159
Domestic Politics in the Era of Superpower and Empirep. 184
Inverted Totalitarianism: Antecedents and Precedentsp. 211
Demotic Momentsp. 238
Democracy's Prospects: Looking Backwardsp. 259
Notesp. 293
Indexp. 339
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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